‘Throw On My Uniform’: Congress Reacts To Zelenskyy’s Emotional Speech

(Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Members of Congress from both parties called on the Biden administration to amp up its support for Ukraine in response to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Wednesday morning speech.

Zelenskyy renewed his call for a no-fly zone in the joint address to Congress, and urged the U.S. to provide his besieged nation with missiles and airplanes. He also played a video compilation showing destroyed Ukrainian cities, while invoking the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. (RELATED: Zelenskyy Invokes Martin Luther King, Tells Congress ‘I Have A Need’ For More Weapons)

“Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace,” Zelenskyy concluded, in a direct appeal to President Joe Biden.

Although most elected officials made clear that they view a no-fly zone as off the table, they still expressed a desire for the U.S. to do more to support the Ukrainian people and their military.

Zelenskyy’s speech “makes me want to throw on my uniform and go help,” Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst told reporters. Ernst, an Army National Guard veteran, deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

There’s [not] any member of Congress [who] left that room without thinking what more the United States can do to stop this carnage,” Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy added, describing the speech as “gut wrenching.”

Republican Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher urged the Biden administration to increase pressure on China, which has leaked American intelligence on the conflict to Russia and signaled that it will not go along with Western-backed sanctions.

“We also need to send a clear message to the Chinese Communist Party that we will punish them if they intervene in the conflict in order to help Russia. The CCP must know we will make public any evidence of military assistance to Russia. We should also immediately ban the export of semiconductor equipment and design software to key CCP-directed firms while making clear this embargo will expand depending upon Chinese behavior,” he said in a statement.

Democratic Washington Rep. Adam Smith, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, suggested that Congress should approve more military aid to Ukraine.

“The United States and its allies and partners should continue to help the Ukrainians – offering humanitarian assistance, military aid, and more – while ensuring that Russia’s war in Ukraine does not widen,” he said in a statement.

Congress approved $13.6 billion in humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine in the 2022 fiscal year appropriations package, which Biden signed into law Tuesday. The Biden administration had approved an additional $1.2 billion in aid to Ukraine before the package was finalized.